The charity, War Child, says urgent action is needed to protect displaced children. In 2015, nearly 100,000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in 78 countries, almost triple the number seen the year before. The report warns that in the next 10 years on current trends at least 300,000 child refugees will end up separated from their families.
Recent research by Unicef says the next 10 years could see an enormous rise in the number of displaced children, with 63 million forced to leave their homes by 2025, more than double the current figure of 28 million.
Hannah Stoddart, director of advocacy and communications for War Child, says, the needs of displaced children go beyond the basics of food and water. “Children who have fled violence are suffering extreme trauma … There is acute long-term damage when children are not supported through trauma, or are out of school. I’ve just come back from Za’atari [camp] in Jordan where many Syrian refugees have no source of income and often pull their children out of school to engage in illegal forms of child labour. There are zero opportunities for higher education and it’s really sad to see when the young girls have so much ambition.” Stoddart pointed out that the projected increase is related to the changing nature of hostilities. “The intensity and the protracted nature of the conflict means there are higher concentrations of people fleeing conflicts that seem to know no end. Syria is an illustration. It is intense, brutal and has been ongoing for six years. If there isn’t a dramatic change then people will flee, children will flee and families will be separated as they seize any opportunity for a better life.”
Only 5% of humanitarian funding is dedicated to child protection and education. Schooling was the least funded sector in almost a third of countries affected by conflict in 2015, with 73% and 85% of funding needs unmet in Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo respectively in 2015.
Emily Garin, Unicef’s policy specialist, explained,“We believe children should be the primary focus. The real tragedy is that children have been suffering because of conflicts not of their making, and that this is not new. There are children born into refugee camps in northern Kenya who are second- and third-generation Somali refugees. We hope we can turn outrage over individual child cases into care for the bigger issue.”